Legislative Update, January 12, 2013

January 12, 2013
Tennessee General Assembly information, click HERE. For information on State Senators, including phone numbers and email addresses, click HERE; for House members, click HERE. For information on legislation, click HERE.
Don't forget that you can now watch the Senate committee meetings and floor sessions online by going HERE; House committee meetings and floor sessions online HERE.
Phone calls can go to the legislative Switchboard at 615-741-3011 or to the Toll Free number 1-800-449-8366+1 last four digits of office phone number (available online).

"The very essence of a free government consists in considering offices a public trust, bestowed for the good of the country, and not for the benefit of an individual or a party."  ---John C. Calhoun

We are commanded to pray for our leaders. "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior." 1 Timothy 2:1-3
We should see that not only as a 'command' but as a privilege.  My prayer is that our law makers will have the WISDOM of Solomon, the COURAGE of Joshua, the BUSINESS sense of Joseph, the GOVERNING skill of Nehemiah, the HUMILITY of Josiah, and UNDERSTANDING the times like sons of Issachar.
Similar to what is happening across the state and nation, there is a lot of sickness at Legislative Plaza: legislators, staff, and lobbyists. That is a very closed in place so let's pray for healing and wellness!!

For those who may be new to our network, this month I began my 26th year as President of Tennessee Eagle Forum and representing the families of Tennessee at the State Capitol.  Now I can tell you , when we moved here in August of 1986, I had no idea about what I was getting into. I started working with national Eagle Forum in the mid-1970s and once that started, God just continued to grow that assignment until it became a overwhelming passion.  What a journey it has been!  Sometimes frustrating and disappointing?  Absolutely!! But for the most part, it has been just wonderful -- experiences I would not trade for anything.  However, the most important aspect of these past years are the FRIENDSHIPS I have formed. Friendships that have touched my heart and greatly enriched my life. Please know that I consider it SUCH a PRIVILEGE it is to serve YOU.   And, with your help, along the way, some pretty good laws have been passed!! 
An interesting fact is that out of the 132 legislators, the turnover in the past 25 years has been such that there are, this month, only five lawmakers still serving that were there when I started in 1987.

Knowing that, like all other organizations, Tennessee Eagle Forum (TEF) must raise the funds to keep the work going, a faithful supporter, Betty Anderson, has issued a CHALLENGE.  She has sent TEF a check for $26 - one dollar for each of my 26 years.  Her CHALLENGE is that each subscriber would do likewise.  Certainly, we are humbled and appreciative of her thoughtfulness. If you want to take up that CHALLENGE, you can send your check to 3216 Bluewater Trace, Nashville, TN, 37217 or go to our website and use PayPal.  Donations are not tax deductible.

Once again, my good friend, attorney Joanne Bregman will be 'on duty' doing her excellent work.  Joining us this year as our intern is Nate Merrell
. Nate was born in Oklahoma, but has been raised in Tennessee since he was a baby. He has been home educated along with his siblings and will graduate in the spring. In the past he has participated in Civil Air Patrol and is currently involved in his local speech and debate club and the Nashville Youth Choir. He hopes to attend Reformation Bible College in Orlando next fall where he will study theology and philosophy. 
His preferred areas of study are history and the Bible. Reading, cutting grass, listening to talk radio and spending time with friends and family fill his spare time. He resides in Williamson County with his parents and three siblings.

The 'organizational' session of the 108th Tennessee General Assembly started when they convened in their respective chambers at 'high noon' on Tuesday, January 8th.  Taking the oath of office were eight new Senators [see picture at right] and 23 new House members.
This is a HISTORIC session, the Republicans hold a Constitutional Majority in both chambers:  70 of 99 members in the State House, and 26 of 33 members in the State Senate.

You can go HERE to see all of the 2013 Freshman Class.

We also returned to some security changes: Tennessee's General Assembly returns to tighter security

The main order of business on Tuesday was the election of and swearing in the Senate and House leaders. As expected, Sen. Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) was re-elected as Senate Speaker and Lt. Governor; Rep. Beth Harwell (R-Nashville), was elected Speaker of the House; Rep. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) was elected at Speaker Pro Tem.

On Wednesday, in a Joint Convention (where the Senate and House meet together) the Constitutional Officers were re-elected.  The Honorable Tre Hargett, Secretary of State; the Honorable Justin Wilson, Comptroller; and the Honorable David Lillard, Treasurer.
Comptroller, Secretary of State Treasurer Re-elected, Praised

Other than the normal formalities of the organization session, the BIG news was the fairly dramatic changes the initiated by the Speaker of the House and voted on on Thursday. For the first time since 1997, adopt permanent Rules of Order, which included, for the first time ever, limiting the number of bills that House member can introduce, with some exceptions.
House OKs limiting Tennessee lawmakers to 15 bills a year

The other BIG news was the total reorganization of the House Committees.  Go HERE to see the House Committees and their members.
Go HERE to see the Senate Committees and their members.

At the end of the House Floor Session on Thursday, Rep. Charlie Curtis (D-Sparta) took 'the well', with Rep. Richard Floyd (R-Chattanoga), Rep. Vince Dean (R-East Ridge) and Rep. Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland) to announce the formation of a Prayer Caucus, inviting their colleagues to join them in the Legislative Library for a brief organizational session. 

The General Assembly has recessed  for two weeks in order to identify and assign office space to the 132 members.  Quite a task!!

They we re-convene on Monday evening,  January 28th, when, in a joint convention, the lawmakers will hear the State of the State Address by Governor Bill Haslam.


State Revenue Collections Up In December

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tennessee revenue collections for December came in stronger than the same month a year before.  Finance and Administration Commissioner Mark Emkes reported Thursday that state revenue collections for December were $982.2 million, which is 1.71% above December 2011. December sales tax collections represent consumer spending that occurred in November. 

“Total revenues in December were higher than expected due to over collections in the sales and corporate tax categories,” Mr. Emkes said.  “We believe the December sales tax growth rate, which includes ‘Black Friday’ and after-Thanksgiving sales, may reflect renewed consumer confidence, but January’s report will give us a fuller picture with Christmas retail activity.  Read more here.

Because of the current political climate, we will see a lot of bills dealing with the protection of our very important Second Amendment rights. Rep. Faison and Sen. Niceley are getting out early.

Faison, Niceley introduce bill prohibiting Tenn. funding for gun confiscation

Tennessee State Representative Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby), and State Senator Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) introduced legislation today, House Bill 10, that would prohibit any Tennessee State funding from being used to confiscate firearms should the federal government outlaw certain weapons now legal, but which could be made illegal under a federal confiscation, law, rule, or executive order that becomes effective after January 1st, 2013 which “imposes restrictions on citizens who lawfully possess or carry firearms in this state; allows the allocation of state or local personnel or property to such regulation or enforcement if federal funding is provided.” Read more here.

Some of the 'HOT TOPICS' for this session are expected to be: guns-in-trunks again; health care and Medicaid expansion, wine in grocery stores, more education reform, taxes, judicial selection, worker's comp reform, privacy issues, and more.

Full List of New TN Laws Effective Jan. 1, 2013
Following is a list of state laws taking effect on Jan. 1, 2013, as compiled by Legislative Information Services. The first number is the "public chapter" number of the new law, followed by the bill number as it appeared during the legislative session, the subject and then the description. (Below the LIS list is a listing compiled by the Senate Republican Caucus that contains more description in some cases.) See list HERE.

Since the General Assembly will not return until January 28th, you will received your next Legislative Update on February 2nd.  Between now and then, please let others know about this service and encourage them to go HERE to sign up. You will be kept abreast of the activites on the Hill, where bills are and how to be an informed participant  in YOUR state government.